'Tis the month to be a hermit, but why not get a friend, ditch the video games and get some geek chic with a good old-fashioned game of chess.
A classy Elizabethan set in reconstituted marble features the legendary icy Virgin Queen with, well, her secretary and treasurer, Lord Burghley, as her king. Because, you know -- if you can't have sex you may as well have an eager administrative assistant (1, $355, Royal Ontario Museum gift shop, 100 Queen's Park, 416-586-5784).
A Muppets set with Her Royal Pigness and King Kermit is cool and has garnered pseudo-collector status since Jim Henson's death. (2, $59.99, Mind Games, Eaton Centre, 416-977-8994).
If you want to go more trad but think plain wood is a bit too 15th-century, try a multi-hued glass set (3, $79.95, the Chess Shop, 1685 Bayview, 416-486-3395).
For short men with a complex, a Napoleonic set complete with his once-adored Josephine at his side will put the whole family in a conquering mood (4, $89.99, Mind Games).
A decorative brass-and-pewter Greco-Roman set will look perfect in your faux-leather study while you entertain filthy thoughts of the "Greek" sort (5, $269.99, Mind Games).
And even though their lame attempt at basing an episode in Toronto, like, sucked, every pop-cult cat still wants to get a classic Simpsons set (6, $79.95, the Chess Shop).
For serious collectors, the stumpy Isle of Lewis reproduction set is the most desirable. It's cast from pieces found in 1831 and kept in various museums; the originals are believed to date from 1150-1170 CE and are the most complete set of ancient chessmen in existence today (7, $239.95, the Chess Shop).
To make it so, pick up a Star Trek New Generation set, complete with Captain Picard and his lady friend, Dr. Beverly Crusher (8, $39.95, the Chess Shop).
Or get an elaborately carved ancient Chinese set (9, $259.95, ROM). No word on which particular ancient Chinese characters they are -- even the folks at the museum couldn't tell -- just, you know, ancient ones.Checkmate chic -- it's not all black and white any more!